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Jimmy DeBerry

Jimmy DeBerry Biography

  1. b. 17 November 1911, Gumwood, Arkansas, USA, d. 17 January 1985, Sikeston, Missouri, USA. De Berry was an active if peripheral member of the Memphis blues community from its heyday during the 20s until the early 50s. He grew up in Arkansas and Mississippi before moving to Memphis to live with his aunt in 1927. Teaching himself to play ukulele and then banjo and guitar, he associated with the likes of Will Shade, Charlie Burse, Jack Kelly, Frank Stokes and a very young Walter Horton. While in East St. Louis in 1934, he lost the lower part of his right leg in a train accident. Five years later, he recorded for Vocalion Records with his Memphis Playboys in a style that updated the hokum music from the earlier part of the decade. Over the next 15 years De Berry spent time in St. Louis and Jackson, Tennessee, returning to Memphis to make radio appearances with Willie Nix and Walter Horton. In 1953 he recorded two sessions for Sun Records; at the first session, he and Horton recorded the classic ‘Easy’, an instrumental adaptation of Ivory Joe Hunter’s ‘I Almost Lost My Mind’. The blues ballad ‘Time Has Made A Change’, with accompaniment from pianist Mose Vinson, came from the second session. In 1972 producer Steve LaVere reunited De Berry and Horton for sessions designed to recreate their earlier partnership, an endeavor that met with little success.

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